The Boston Bruins overcame a handful of obstacles Thursday night in the Ottawa suburbs.
After their comeback bid fell short the night prior against the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston’s obstacles began with a slow start on the second game of a back-to-back. They fired a mere two shots on net in the opening frame up until their first power-play attempt.
David Pastrnak scored three seconds into Boston’s only power play chance of the night.
The Bruins built off of Pastrnak’s tally in the second, with Trent Frederic notching his 14th of the year with a slick short-side wrister over Joonas Korpisalo’s blocker.
The ‘A’ game evaded the Bruins on their latest back-to-back, struggling to defend Ottawa’s counterattack. They also ran into penalty trouble and hardly received the benefit of the doubt from Thursday’s officiating crew.
“I didn’t think we dodged a bullet. I think we took about eight bullets,” Jim Montgomery told the media about the power play disparity. “They had six power plays; we had one.”
The Sens struck on their fifth and sixth attempts with the power play to even things up behind Thomas Chabot’s tally on a backdoor feed late in the second and Vladimir Tarasenko’s equalizer with 3:18 left in regulation. But the Bruins persevered again during the 3-on-3 overtime to come away with an unlikely two points.
Brad Marchand turned Jeremy Swayman’s pad save on Tim Stutzle into transition. As he approached the net, the Boston captain looked off Charlie Coyle on a 2-on-1 and fired a wrister past Korpisalo for a milestone OT winner.
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s resilient 3-2 victory in their penultimate outing before the all-star break.
Boston’s sticktoitiveness shines in the second game of a back-to-back.
Perhaps the Bruins ran into the right opponent under the circumstances.
Penalty trouble and a flat opening period may have resulted in the Bruins playing from behind against a handful of playoff-caliber teams in the latter half of a back-to-back.
On this night, the hiccups didn’t prove overly costly.
Against the lowly Sens, the Bruins withstood a sluggish opening 20 minutes and an initial set of head-scratching calls against them to take a 1-0 lead on Pastrnak’s power-play blast. In the second, they returned to their forechecking roots, winning several puck-possession battles while establishing a productive counterattack in 5-on-5 play to extend their cushion to 2-0 on Frederic’s marker.
In the third, the Sens pushed back against as the Bruins went into prevent mode. They nearly relinquished the tying marker earlier, but a hand pass negated Josh Norris’ tally. Within a few minutes, they then forced their penalty kill into a pivotal situation after Parker Kelly sold a cross-check on Parker Wotherspoon. Tarasenko notched his 13th of the season for Ottawa’s equalizer.
“To get the lead after the first period having to kill two penalties and getting a power play at the end gave us momentum,” Montgomery told NESN’s Andy Brickley.
“I thought our second period was dynamite. I thought we controlled the play 5-on-5. And then the third period, they pushed, we held up for a little while. But I really liked was how gritty we were, how we stuck together and how we kept playing the right way 5-on-5.”
With fatigue settling in, the Bruins saw their 2-0 lead slowly evaporate. Instead of caving, they turned to their captain to right the ship.
“We obviously can’t control the calls that go against us here in a game. I thought we did a great job in battling through that,” Marchand told NESN’s Adam Pellerin. “We got in late and a back-to-back with travel is never easy. I thought we did a good job persevering and getting that win. It feels good.”
Marchand surpasses Ray Bourque for his latest milestone.
With old faces departing and fresh names arriving, the Bruins entered their centennial season as a team in transition. Marchand, the lone holdover from the 2011 Stanley Cup squad, ascended to the captaincy to help the current cast navigate through some early growing pains in the first year without Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
Heck, Marchand had to adjust to life without Bergeron for the first time in his nearly decade-and-a-half career. And he silenced whatever doubts anyone had about his scoring production without the six-time Selke winner by his side.
With his knack for clutch moments, Marchand is on pace for his first 40-goal season. A night after scoring twice in the third to pull even with Carolina, Marchand continued that trend a night later with his overtime winner.
“It looked like an uphill battle sometimes, and really special to get a back-to-back as well and finish it off in overtime,” Swayman said following his 35-save performance. “Huge congrats to Marshy, obviously passing some pretty big names on the scoring list. A really feel good win for us and we’re excited to move forward.”
Along the way, Marchand continued his latest stretch of accolades.
Nearly two weeks after surpassing Rick Middleton for fifth place on the team’s all-time points list, Marchand moved into the top five on the franchise’s goal rankings, surpassing Ray Bourque and his 395 career tallies.
Upon regaining his breath during his postgame interview with NESN, a reflective Marchand took a moment to praise Bourque’s achievements and importance in Bruins’ lore both on and off the ice.
“I think what’s more impressive that he did that being a d-man. His stats when you look at them — I was actually looking at them today — they’re so incredible,” Marchand said of Bourque. And what’s even better about him is the leader that he was, and his compete level every day. You hear stories from guys that play with him and what made him so good. So I think that’s what I admire the most about him. He tried to get better every day.
“To be in company like that is pretty incredible. It’s never something I thought would happen. It’s just great to be around guys like that and learn from them, and that’s what makes this organization special.”
More career accolades await Marchand as he sits four goals shy of 400 and five games away from 1,000.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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